Vienna, April 22 – Vyacheslav Tuchnin, the minister counselor at the Russian Embassy in Tallinn, has told local ethnic Russians that “the recognition by Russia of the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union is inevitable” and that they should “not interfere with this process,” a Russian activist in Estonia has complained to a sympathetic Russian news agency.
Even if this report is nothing more than the settling of scores between Russian “compatriots” in that Baltic country and a Russian diplomat with whom they have been working, it is indicative of the tensions between the two and a measure of the increasing problems Moscow now has in exploiting ethnic Russians abroad.
And given that the Duma is now considering a change in the definition of “compatriots” that has been proposed by the Russian foreign ministry, such tensions and complaints are likely to increase, with each side concerned not only with advancing its own immediate interests but also with reaching out to a broader audience within the Russian Federation.
Today, Regnum.ru, whose chief editor Modest Kolerov has often criticized the Baltic countries, reports that a local Russian activist, Maksim Reva, has said that “the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Estonia is preparing the political climate for recognition by Russia of ‘the occupation’ of Estonia by the Soviet Union” (www.regnum.ru/news/1276352.html).
According to Reva, who is described by Regnum.ru as “one of the leaders of the Estonian anti-fascist organization ‘Night Patrol,’” Tuchnin has told local Russians that “recognition by Russia of the occupation by the Soviet Union is inevitable and that [they,] Russian compatriots living in Estonia must come to terms with this and not interfere with the process.”
And Reva adds that “Tuchnin “loves to talk about how health a thing it would be if the veterans who defeated fascism would make friends with the former SS soldiers and together lay flowers at the same monuments,” a view that the ethnic Russian activist says reflects “open collaborationism” by the Russian diplomat.
Indeed, “when talking with Tuchnin,” Reva says, “one gets the feeling that he is not in a Russian embassy but at a propagandist lecture in the Occupation Museum.” And that is all the more troubling, the activist continues, because “the activity of the minister counselor of Russia is not his personal position but bears a systemic character.”
Reva adds that the embassy has done little to help local ethnic Russians get ready to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Victory Day, despite what he says are plans that his group and others have put forward. Tuchnin and his colleagues are doing what the “Estonian nationalists want,” he says. They “hope that Russians of Estonia will forget Victory Day altogether.
The ethnic activist also blamed Tuchnin for recent splits in the Russian compatriots movement in Estonia, splits that many have blamed on provocateurs. No one thought that the Estonians would not try to do that, he added, but it is hard to fathom that a Russian diplomat would be involved.
One possible explanation for the appearance of this story is to force the Russian Embassy in Tallinn and the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow to issue a denial, something that people like Reva will then invoke as evidence that the Russian powers that be have no plans to recognize the occupation of the Baltic states.
But even if such statements are forthcoming, Reva’s recounting of what Tuchnin supposedly has said suggests that at least some in the Russian Foreign Ministry have concluded that continuing denial of what Stalin did as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty with Hitler is no longer politically sustainable, however much some like Reva want it to be.